Somali president slams donors

MOGADISHU (AFP) — The Somali president warned that “terrorists” were threatening his shattered country’s security and slammed international donors for failing to help as promised, in an interview with AFP.

An Ethiopian-backed government offensive in Mogadishu last month ended weeks of clashes with Islamist-led insurgents that killed hundreds of civilians and forced tens of thousands to flee, but sporadic attacks are again on the increase.

“My government was battling terrorists who lost their strongholds militarily in Mogadishu, but they are still at large by hiding in the towns and villages,” Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed said late Sunday at his official residence Villa Somalia, which has been a target of mortar attacks.

“We don’t believe the threats of terrorists are over as some of them are abroad still planning to create havoc again,” he said.

Four Ugandan peacekeepers from an African Union (AU) force were killed in a bomb attack on their convoy last week, and the prime minister and mayor of Mogadishu both escaped unharmed from roadside bomb attacks in recent days.

Yusuf, who was elected president in 2004, also launched a scathing attack on international donors for failing to provide more help.

“The outside world promised a reconstruction plan with a full package to develop the lives of Somalis in war-torn Somalia but efforts of the international community are confined to meagre humanitarian work,” he said.

“The United States is appreciating our struggle against terrorism but did not give any tangible assistance to reconstruct a devasted nation. Even the UN has yet to take drastic action to assist to rebuild Somalia,” he added.

“I don’t know what is true and what is false when it is concerning the international community. I don’t appreciate hypocrisy.” For their part, international aid groups say they are struggling to deliver vital food and supplies to the tens of thousands displaced by recent fighting in Mogadishu because of continued insecurity.

Various Western donors, including the United States and the European Union, have pledged millions of dollars in humanitarian aid to Somalia, and also to fund the AU peacekeeping mission.

But the international community has been hesitatant to pledge further money before seeing the outcome of a broad inter-clan Somali reconciliation conference, due to start on June 14.

Yusuf said the commission tasked with organising the conference had revised the expected number of participants downwards from 3,000 to around 1,325, due to logistical constraints.

The conference, first planned for April 14, has been pushed back several times because of insecurity in Mogadishu and difficulties in gathering funding.

The government has said it needs around $42.2 million (32 million euros) for the meeting but the new US envoy to Somalia, John Yates, said last week that the international community may offer less.

Yusuf reiterated that leaders of the defeated Islamic Courts Union (ICU) could only take part in the conference as representatives of their clans, not of their movement — a position they reject.

“ICU represents threats to national security,” he said.

The ICU controlled much of south and central Somalia, including Mogadishu, for six months last year before it was ousted in January by Ethiopian and Somali government troops with the support of the United States.

Somalia has been without an effective government since the 1991 ouster of Mohammad Siad Barre, sparked a bloody power struggle that has defied numerous attempts to restore stability.

Check Also

Turkish-backed Syrian forces intensify attacks on US-aligned Syrian Kurdish group

The Turkish army and its allied Syrian factions have recently increased attacks against the Syrian …